In keeping with our “freedom of expression” philosophy, the MyCanvas publishing service provides many different tools for editing and manipulating text in a book, poster or calendar. We give you so many options that you may not be aware of some of them, even if you’re an experienced MyCanvas user.
In MyCanvas you can:
- Position a new or existing text box anywhere on the page
- Resize, rotate and copy a text box
- Choose from 30 different fonts
- Customize the font color to match another element on the page
- Customize the color of a text box background
- Adjust the opacity of a text box background
- Layer a text box on top of an image or another text box
To help you visualize how it all works, here’s a sample page I threw together. It’s a collage poster that I designed from scratch. Of course you could also create a page like this in a photo book or calendar.
Since I wanted to stack the letters vertically instead of typing them in horizontally, I created a new text box for each letter. To make the last letter, “X,” I have two options. I can click the “Add text” icon in the main toolbar to create a new text box, which I can then place anywhere on the page.
Or, since I’ve already formatted three text boxes, I can copy one of them using the Copy icon in the text editing toolbar.
I just move the copy where I want it and then type an “X” in place of the “E.”
Notice that I’ve put drop-shadows on all of these letters to add some depth. You can add drop-shadows to text just as you can to images.
If I want to change the typeface, I click on a text box to bring up the text editing toolbar and then select a font from the drop-down menu. In this case, since I’m working with four text boxes, I’m going to apply the change to all of them at once to save time. To do this, I select the first text box and then hold down the Control key (or the Command key, if I’m working on my Mac) while I select the other three boxes.
A few weeks ago I blogged about our new color picker, which lets you pick a color from a precise spot on a photo and apply that color to a border or page background. You may have noticed that the background of this poster exactly matches the blue from the side panel of Alex’s Spiderman costume. The color picker also works for text: you can use it to customize a font color or the background of a text box.
In this example, I’m going to multi-select the four text boxes and then change the font color to a custom shade of red that matches Alex’s costume — or, more accurately, a particular spot on his costume. I just grab the eyedropper tool and place it on the exact spot that I want to match. If I choose an area with no shadows I’ll get a different result than if I pick a spot close to a seam in the fabric, where the color appears darker.
To add a background to a text box, I click the little white “A” box that’s right next to the color box in the text editing toolbar. I check the “Background” box to make a background appear. The background is white by default, but I can change it to any color I want.
Now look at the slider just below the checkbox. It lets me adjust the opacity of the text box background.
By default the transparency is always set to zero, meaning that the background is fully opaque. To make the background transparent, I can either slide the little bar to the left, type in a percentage or use the arrow keys to increase or decrease the transparency. In this case I decide to make the background about 50% transparent.
I play around with the backgrounds for a while and decide I like the effect of making two of the boxes fully opaque and the other two 50% transparent.
To create the illusion of depth, I can copy a text box and then layer the original on top of the copy. I like how the “A” stands out when I set it apart from the other letters in this way.
In this last version, I keep the layering effect but change the background colors for the other three letters, using a darker shade of blue that matches the shadowy part of Alex’s costume. In this example all the text boxes are fully opaque.
I’ve only covered the advanced text editing features because the basic features — like changing the font size, changing the text alignment and using the bold, italics and underline tools — are pretty self-explanatory to anyone who’s ever used a word processing program. But it bears mentioning that only a handful of online photo book applications even let you do something as basic as centering or italicizing text. Most only let you change the font type and size and choose a font color from 15 or 20 options.
At MyCanvas, our goal is to provide much greater flexibility than other self-publishing sites without an overly complicated user experience. If you have any suggestions for how we can improve our service — with regard to our text editing tools or any other aspect of the MyCanvas experience — please let us know.
To provide feedback, you can post a comment on this blog or send us a message through the “Give Feedback” link in MyCanvas.